Wondering how to keep your snowmobile helmet from fogging up? Regardless of whether you have dropped hundreds on a helmet hoping it would cure the condensation issue, or you just experienced a foggy visor for the first time, there are some things you should know that will help keep your face shield fog free.
Without diving into the exact science of condensation, the short answer for keeping your helmet from fogging up: air circulation.
There is nothing worse than planning a trip, loading your gear and sled, getting to the trails and being blinded by fog just a few miles into your ride, or even worse is when your face shield fogs instantly. We’ve got a few tips and tricks for you that will help reduce the chance of fogging on your next ride.
Of coarse, the conditions you are riding in will vary from extremely cold with 0% humidity to above freezing, slushy trails and foggy. Keep in mind some adjustments will work better than others depending on these factors.
Proper Fitting Helmet
No brainer right? Well, you might be surprised to know how many people choose over sized helmets thinking they are going to bundle up with a bunch of layers under there. A helmet that is too large is incredibly unsafe, likely uncomfortable, or at least mildly annoying when it is moving around freely. Excess space inside the helmet allows for more air to be trapped and not vented as the helmet is designed to.
The breath box is designed to fit both the size of the helmet and be able to custom fit to your face. If there are gaps between your face and the upper rim of the breath box, this will quickly fog your face shield. Deflecting breath in both full face helmets and open face snocross, or MX style helmets is equally as important as face shields and goggles have a tendency to fog without the use of a breath deflector. The breath box should be firmly mounted to the helmet and form a relatively tight seal across your cheek bones and the bridge of your nose. The breath box should be positioned so that it is comfortable for you.
Those who wear prescription glasses may notice this is particularly important if their glasses are fogging before the face shield.
Electric Heated Face Shield
These work exactly the same way the rear window defrost on a car. This will require riding with a cord that tethers you to your sled, but just about any heated shield available today will have an easily accessible plug that you can detach when needed. Electric face shields are either on or off as they regulate themselves. Don’t worry, these get warm enough to melt ice and free up fog, but not hot enough to melt your shield.
Many modern snowmobiles have an RCA-like connection precisely for heated shields, and other accessories. If you have a sled that does not include this, you can wire the shield to the battery on your sled. Most snowmobile helmets with heated face shields include a cord that offers both connections.
Open Your Vents
The warm moist air in your snowmobile helmet contrasting with the cold air blowing on the other side is what causes fog. The upper chimney vents allow for more air to be sucked out the rear exhaust ports in your helmet (The Venturi Effect), while the lower air intake vents might provide a bit more noticeable circulation when riding. Opening all vents is a good way to clear fog, especially if it the fog is gradually, but persistently accumulating. Ventilation varies by helmet model, but most full face snowmobile helmets will have at least a front air vent opening.
Keep it Clean
Dust and finger smudges increase the surface area of flat surfaces, and believe it or not, both can dramatically impact how much, or how fast a helmet fogs. Try cleaning your face shield with a microfiber cloth before heading out. It’s not a bad idea to stash a dry microfiber cloth in a ZipLoc bag for those all day rides.
Crack Your Shield
Is opening the vents not cutting it? Riding with a slightly open shield should clear out the fog pretty quickly. If the shield on your helmet has a notched bracket system that keeps the shield in place when partially open, try 1-2 clicks in the open position to allow for more air to circulate behind the shield.
Riding with a slightly open face shield will definitely help improve airflow inside your helmet to eliminate condensation. This might not be the most comfortable solution when riding in extremely cold temperatures, or heavy snowfall, but if the amount of fog accumulating in your helmet is mild then 30 seconds to a minute might be all that’s necessary.
Open Your Shield When Stopped
This is a big one, especially for riders without electric heated face shields. This can happen easily when you just head out for a ride, and the best way to stop this is to keep your shield up unless you are moving.
Your face shield is bound to fog up if not enough air is circulating through it, so when you are stopped to chat, fuel up, read a map, whatever, flip up your face shield. You might notice that your helmet is just fogging up because of a lack of airflow, so timing when you flip up your shield when you riding slow or stopped.
Things to Buy
Not the end all solution, but it can definitely help deflect the effects of wind chill that contribute to fog. Some riders don’t like the look of a windshield, but it can help reduce the amount your face shield fogs.
Be careful with some home remedy solutions. There are anti-fog sprays and products that are specifically designed to work on polycarbonate face shields that would be worth a try. Your shield may have UV, scratch resistant, or anti-fog coatings so be careful with anything abrasive or cleaning products that contain either alcohol or ammonia.
Something that can help in a pinch is using a clear shampoo to coat the inside of your face shield. Use some kind of clear shampoo like baby shampoo. Spread a small amount on your shield, let it dry, and gently wipe clean with a microfiber cloth or soft flanel. Keep in mind that the shampoo can be easily removed with water, so you may need to reapply periodically if you find this works for you.